With around 350 registered guests, the first IAF (International Exhibition for Track Technology) Congress on Rail Infrastructure Works, held in Münster from 17 to 19 May, was a great success. As stated by German Railway Chief Dr. Rüdiger Grube, the chosen theme captured precisely the spirit of our times. In his capacity as patron of the event, he opened the two-day conference in the presence of Mr. Marcus Lewe, the Mayor of Münster. Before this the guests were welcomed by the President of the VDEI Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Klaus Junker.
The Association of German Railway Engineers (VDEI e.V.) invited the “who is who” of the European railway engineering industry to this international forum, held for the first time, to discuss the challenges of cross-border rail traffic. Dr. Grube particularly emphasised the growth in international rail traffic in Germany – as the No. 1 transit country in the centre of Europe with 50 border crossings and 9 neighbouring countries in the railway sector. However, there is often resistance from the public in reaction to the necessary upgrading work and greater utilisation of the existing infrastructure. “Here it can only be possible by working together with trans-national communication and coordination to plan the necessary measures in good time and implement them too. Especially with regard to this, the iaf Congress on Rail Infrastructure Works is a good forum.”
For the first section on the topic “Network development in Central Europe” it was possible to bring to one table the heads of the four largest European railways networks in Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria: Dipl.-Wirtsch. Inf. Oliver Kraft, Spokesman of the Board of DB Netz AG, spoke about the “Netz 21” strategy pursued by Deutsche Bahn AG; Serge Michel, Director of Renewals of Réseau Ferré de France (RFF) spoke about network improvement and Ing. Mag. Andreas Matthä, Spokesman of the Board of ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG, spoke about increasing the capacity of the ÖBB network; and finally Philippe Gauderon, Director of Infrastructure and Member of the Managerial Board of SBB AG, in his paper posed the provocative question “How much are we prepared to pay for our future?” Following the presentations, the national approaches of the four speakers were discussed and questioned with great interest. The initiator of the Congress Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lothar Fendrich, CEO of SPITZKE Development BV, chaired the first section.
In the second section too: “Further development of the Networks – Methods and Applications”, papers were held by high-ranking speakers from universities, system houses and engineering offices, Dr. Dipl.-Ing. Yves Putallaz, OXAND, Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. techn. Peter Veit, Graz University of Technology, Dipl.-Ing (FH) Stefan Orlinski, Thales Transportation Systems GmbH and Michael Baumann, Engineering Office Dipl.-Ing. H. Vössing GmbH. Yves Putallaz started off with the topic “Assessing the asset maintenance policy of a railway network”. In his presentation “Rehabilitation, maintenance, new construction in the life cycle”, Dr. Peter Veit described one of his main theories: that the decision for or against railway construction projects should always be made in consideration of their life-cycle costs.
This section was chaired by Em. Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. techn. Klaus Riessberger, President of the UEEIV.
Section III “Financing of the Measures”, which was held on the second day, chaired by Annette Hering, spokeswoman for the VDEI advisory board and Head of the Hering Enterprise, focussed on the planning of costs and financing. Mr. Michael Harting, Ministerial Director in the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, was the first speaker from the world of politics. In his paper, he illustrated above all the political aspects of the Performance and Financing Agreement (LuFV) with DB Netz AG. After this came presentations by CEng MSc Hans Ring, Director International Affairs with Trafikverket in Sweden, Xavier Bezançon, Délegué Général, Entreprises Générales de France, Diederik Schonebaum, Member of the Board of Strukton Rail BV, describing the construction and maintenance performances in the Dutch Railways’ network and Dipl.-Ing. Helmut Schreiner and Fred Beilhack from SWIETELSKY Baugesellschaft m.b.H. in Linz.
The closing panel discussion held by selected speakers with the audience was presented by Dirk Flege, Managing Director of Allianz pro Schiene.
The Congress papers were complemented perfectly by the accompanying indoor exhibition and by technical demonstrations in the outdoor area and on the track. On the evening before the Congress, during the breaks and the communication evening, the participants had sufficient opportunity for networking and obtaining information about current developments in the industry. Leading companies presented their innovations in the sector of track technology – including Plasser & Theurer, Robel Bahnbaumaschinen, Vossloh, Obermeyer Planen + Beraten, Linsinger Austria and Amberg Technologies and many others.
Dr.-Ing. Siegfried Krause, Managing Director of VDEI-Service GmbH and responsible for the organisation of the Congress, was extremely satisfied with the outcome of the two days: “Until now there has been no international forum to discuss the challenges of cross-border rail traffic. This gap has now finally been closed. We were able to attract high-ranking international speakers. At the same time, we offered the participants – representatives from top and middle-level management of the entire railway engineering sector – the unique opportunity to network and exchange experiences with other specialists. And good use was made of this!”
From now on, the iaf Congress on Rail Infrastructure Works will be held every four years. Each time the focus will be on a different theme from the railway infrastructure sector. But before this takes place there will be another important event for railway experts: the iaf - International Exhibition for Track Technology, the largest of its kind in the world, will be held from 28 – 30 May 2013 in Münster!